Weight management. Cardiovascular health. Cancer prevention. Digestive health. Diabetes management. What is one nutrient that contributes to these health benefits, and more? It’s fiber. With all of the beneficial health effects of fiber, it’s hard to imagine how Americans consistently fall short of the recommended 25 grams of fiber per day. Yet, Americans’ busy lifestyles and frequent consumption of overly processed foods put us at an average of just 16 grams per day. If you are thinking about making a change in your dietary habits, you might consider ways to increase your fiber intake – the benefits speak for themselves.
Aim for 25 a day!
All Americans can benefit from aiming for 25 grams of fiber each day. Here are a few strategies to get you started.
1) Plant foods are the best sources of fiber. These include fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and unrefined grains. Include at least one source of plant foods in all meals and snacks. This strategy will provide at least three grams of fiber at each meal/snack.
2) Start the day in a high-fiber way with a bowl of steel cut oats (or a bowl of cereal that has at least five grams of fiber per serving) and a bowl of fresh or frozen berries – already at 8 – 10 grams of fiber and it’s still morning.
3) Consider mid-morning and mid-day snacks “fiber hour”. Choose a handful of nuts and an apple or other fruit for about 6 grams of fiber, or a NuGo Fiber d’Lish bar with 12 grams of fiber. Wholesome on-the-go snacks can provide delicious and nutritious ways of boosting fiber.
4) End the day with a healthy balanced meal, and fruit for dessert, and earn yourself 10 – 15 grams of fiber in one meal! One serving of mixed vegetables or broccoli provides 3 – 5 grams of fiber, for example. A baked potato with the skin contains nearly five grams, and brown rice contains 3.5. One cup of strawberries contains 11 grams!
With just a little bit of thought and planning, dietary fiber can quickly add up. If you keep it up, the health benefits aren’t far behind.
Never be caught without fiber in your house. When that gorgeous fresh produce goes bad and you can’t get to the store, you can still meet your fiber goals by stocking up on fresh-baked Fiber d’Lish.
Anne Marie Kuchera, MS, MA, RD, LPC is a registered dietitian, and both a licensed nutritionist and licensed professional counselor. She manages community-based obesity prevention and preventive health and wellness initiatives through Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.